“I will hate you until I end your life, and I will end it.”
Man, did you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right? Meet Barnabas Collins. He’s experiencing an epic, unbroken string of days like that, which is a real shame, because he doesn’t have a whole lot of days left. As the saying goes: Life sucks, and then you die. And then things start to go seriously downhill from there.
So here’s Barnabas spending a quiet evening at home, trying to check off another item on his to-do list: Murder evil sorceress wife while she’s sleeping.
But she’s just piled up some pillows under the comforter, because you don’t get to be an evil sorceress wife by sleeping on the job. It’s a 24-hour lifestyle.
What follows is one of your all-time weirdest newlywed conversations. It turns out Angelique isn’t upset about the murder attempt; she’s just disappointed.
Angelique: Do you really hate me that much?
Barnabas: You are the witch. I know that.
Angelique: I never wanted you to find out.
This, unfortunately, is not much of an apology.
Barnabas: I listened outside of your door, when you made Victoria Winters run from her room. I think I know everything.
Angelique: That I loved you? That I love you still? Do you really know that? I will always love you.
He raises the dagger, and she cuts him off with a gesture.
Angelique: You cannot kill me. I have many powers, Barnabas. I never wanted you to know that.
Barnabas: I have powers, too! I will hate you until I end your life, and I will end it!
Angelique: You’re going to put your arms down now. If I told those same arms to enclose me, to embrace me, they would. But I would not be that cruel.
Barnabas: Cruel? Have you ever been anything else? You’ve been practicing your witchcraft in this house ever since you came here.
Angelique: Do you want me to stop? I will, if you ask me. If you promise we’ll start over.
And that’s how committed Angelique is to her specific brand of crazy. Even now, with Barnabas holding a knife to her throat, she’s still doing a sales pitch.
Barnabas: Are you so naive to think that I could forget?
Angelique: Yes. You could forget, in time. When we met in Martinique, you saw a woman, not a witch. That woman stands before you now.
Barnabas: That witch is still in your heart, and mine. You’ve destroyed all our lives. And yet you have no regrets.
It’s unreal. Nobody talks like this, especially on daytime television. It’s like they punched a hole in the back of the set, and discovered a whole new world of heightened melodrama on the other side that nobody else knew about.
This isn’t camp, or ironic. At this point, everyone involved in the show has drunk the Kool-Aid. They’re treating this with sincerity, and real passion.
This is a Sam Hall script, by the way. Although you probably guessed that from the enormous chunks of dialogue I’m transcribing.
Here’s a particularly revealing moment.
Angelique: If you had loved me, the way you did in Martinique, none of this would have happened.
Barnabas: I love Josette! Why do you seem to forget that?
Angelique: Because I don’t want it to be so! I was so sure I could change it!
She gets swept up in the recollection.
Angelique: I hated her! For once, I would have something that belonged to her.
Oops. She turns away.
Angelique: … But I loved you.
Yeah, great. Nice save.
Barnabas has had enough.
Barnabas: Nothing you can do can make me continue this. Do you think we can carry on playing as if we were happily married?
Angelique: That is exactly what we are going to do.
Barnabas: I’m going to take you into Collinsport, and turn you over to the authorities.
Angelique: No, you will never do that. And in time, as the years go by, you will learn that we can have a good life together.
And oh my God, you crazy bitch, are you still doing a sales pitch?
She is. Inside her twisted little mind, she’s actually convinced that this whole situation is going to turn around. This is salvageable for her.
In the end, she makes the obvious threat — if Barnabas walks out on her, or tells anyone about her, she’ll kill Josette.
And then we cut to a comedy scene with Nathan and Millicent. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen them, and I’ve missed them terribly. Lieutenant Nathan Forbes is the handsome, manipulative rogue out to marry the extremely rich and impossibly sheltered Millicent Collins. He’s basically a cross between Tom Jones and Mr. Wickham, from Pride and Prejudice.
Millicent: No, no! You must not come with me.
Nathan: Oh, nonsense. I always see my ladies home.
Millicent: A lady would not be getting in this late. Oh, what shall I say if someone sees me?
Nathan: Well, it was such a lovely night, you decided to go for a walk.
Millicent: I never walk. And it’s not lovely; it’s black, and gloomy.
Nathan: Yes. As you are, very suddenly.
It’s gorgeous. This is one of those days that make you glad you’re a Dark Shadows fan; the episode starts out great, and gets better from there.
This scene is exactly what we’ve needed for a couple weeks. The Barnabas/Angelique/Josette love triangle is very strong and story-productive, but it’s been the only storyline going on, and that’s dangerous for a daily soap. You can’t keep the same three characters on screen every day; they need some time off.
Right now, they’ve only got one active B-story, which is Reverend Trask accusing Vicki of being a witch. They need to develop some more B-stories, so here comes Nathan and Millicent with some welcome comedy relief.
Millicent: I don’t think you know anything about love. You talk about it, but you don’t feel it, I think. I mean, you talk about my loving you, not about your loving me. And to know about love, one must base one’s knowledge on one’s self, I’ve heard.
Nathan: Hmm. Are you basing your knowledge on what you have felt?
Millicent: We’re not talking about me. Oh, this is truly impossible. We shall never be alone again.
Barnabas arrives at Collinwood, and finds them together. Millicent jumps up from the bench where they were sitting, and her immediate reaction is to yelp, “Oh! I am RUINED!” Then she starts to weep into her handkerchief.
Barnabas, obviously, has more important things on his mind, and he hardly even notices the impropriety of Millicent and Nathan spending unsupervised time together. Frankly, he couldn’t care less; he just wants Millicent to speak to Josette for him.
This is another great Rosencrantz moment, where the B-story is just quietly going on in the background, while the A-story people act out their sweeping melodrama. It’ll take a while, but eventually these background characters will take their place at the front of the stage. We just need all these A-story people to drop dead first.
And then, to make things even better, here comes the Countess Natalie Du Prés, with some withering dialogue.
Natalie: I have not seen you to congratulate you on your marriage, Barnabas.
Barnabas: Countess, I must see Josette tonight.
Natalie: What an odd way to spend your honeymoon.
And it just goes on like this, for the whole episode. Passionate, angry, stubborn and deeply eccentric, the citizens of Collinwood have come out to play tonight.
And we even get a new little bit of spectacle today. Angelique is upset that Barnabas left the house, so she draws a pair of big cartoon eyes on a piece of paper, and casts a spell to turn a bat into her personal security camera.
And so we end with this little bit of lunatic scenecraft — it’s a “bat by Bil Baird” puppet, keeping a squeaky eye on the populace.
Good night, Collinwood, and good luck with whatever the hell it is that you think you’re doing. I love you.
Tomorrow: Oh My God, Vicki Is an Idiot.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When Barnabas finds Millicent and Nathan together, the boom mic is in view at the top of the screen as Millicent jumps up from the bench.
Tomorrow: Oh My God, Vicki Is an Idiot.
— Danny Horn